Mark Norquist

Veterans for the Boundary Waters

To military veterans, the Boundary Waters is a place where the land and country they fought for
provides healing. That place of healing is under threat from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining
within the Boundary Waters’ watershed. Already the noise of the exploratory activity
of the mining interests is damaging the quiet serenity of the Wilderness.

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Veterans for the Boundary Waters Group History

Erik Packard, an army veteran who served two tours in Iraq, founded the Veterans for the Boundary Waters Group in spring 2015. After his last tour ended, Erik began suffering from PTSD and depression.

When I returned from my 2008 deployment to Iraq, I began to struggle with PTSD, alcohol, depression and suicide. On the insistence of my wife and friends, I finally went back to Boundary Waters. What I found back in the BWCA was a sense of peace that I thought I had lost forever. I could feel the poison that had infected my soul from the horrors of war being drawn out of me. The trip started the healing process, and when I could make it back it would always refresh me.
read erik's story

Erik's experience with Voyageur Outward Bound School’s (VOBS) on a dog sledding trip designed for veterans was a turning point for him. It inspired him to help others find healing through wilderness experiences and to work with the Campaign to protect the wilderness that was so important to his recovery. In October, Erik joined the Campaign in Washington, DC, to share how veterans like him have found healing in the wilderness with Minnesota's senators and other decision makers.


Flush In the Wild
In fall 2015, Erik joined with Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters for his first grouse hunt. The experience and Erik's story were shared in the film, Flush In the Wild.

The Healing Power of Wilderness
Many veterans and others suffering from trauma have found healing through experiences in nature. Read their stories and more in the link below.

Wilderness heals

Change Your POV: EP025 Veterans for the Boundary Waters - Erik Packard (February 16, 2016)
Huffington Post: Veterans Help Save the Boundary Waters After it Saved Them (January 12, 2016)
Gear Junkie: Iraq War Veteran Finds Healing In The BWCA (November 11, 2015)
Star Tribune: Readers Write: A Place of Solace for Veterans is Threatened (April 23, 2015)